The term Customer Relationship Management is often confused with Customer Relationship Marketing. They are, however, two different aspects of customer relationship in the quest to enhance the customer experience.
Customer relationship management is understood to be the systems, processes and procedures that are used by different departments of a business or for a small business, filling the various roles that are required to interact with the customer in a cohesive way. This incorporates Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service (and Technical Support, where applicable)
Customer relationship marketing is defined in “Relationship Marketing: Making the Emotional Connection” as marketing with a focus on customer retention and satisfaction.
There are lots of CRM software available but each has to be evaluated individually in order to determine if it will meet your needs. If you were to survey a panel of just 10 people for each of the following, you’ll find that there are people who like one and hate the other and vice versa. Some of these are:
Zoho : Zoho at www.Zoho.com is described as smart software for growing businesses
Insightly: Insightly at www.insightly.com is described as the #1 CRM for small business
Hubspot: www.hubspot.com/products/crm offers integrated software
Real Simple Systems: www.reallysimplesystems.com offers a free CRM software
There are still others like Salesforce and Infusionsoft.
When to Use
Many entrepreneurs and small business owners start their business on a shoestring budget and so they try to conserve on their business spending as much as possible. There are many business owners who use Excel spreadsheets to keep track of their customers and funnel, and may consider CRM as unnecessary spending until their business takes off.
Early in my online marketing business, one of my Mentors shared that it was important to begin as you mean to continue and set systems in place. Six and a half years ago there were very few reliable free CRM tools. They were mostly very involved and cumbersome for beginners…and expensive. That is not true today. There are many free options with the opportunity to scale up later on.
I believe and recommend that you should start using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool as soon as you can in the early phase of your business as it will take less work to migrate a huge database at a later time. At the same time you can more easily see where your customers or leads are in your funnel right now, and these are essential for business growth.
Are you currently using a CRM software? Have you tried more than one? Which did you like best? We would love to read your findings and recommendations in the Comments section.